Radio from Hell

“Your soul has been defiled!”  By radio? Well, that’s not quite what I mean…

I turned on the radio this morning. I have a portable stereo in the bedroom, I use it to play brainwave entrainment tracks almost every night. I had forgotten that it also has a radio tuner… In fact, when Gallup called the other day to invite me to a detailed study of broadcasting usage, I told them my household had neither TV nor radio. In practice it certainly seems that way, so hopefully I will be forgiven that lie.

This morning, however, I actually turned the radio on. I even tried 3 different stations. My impression was that ordinary people are in a kind of hell. Either that, or I am in a kind of paradise. Wait, does this paragraph even make sense?

What is the connection between radio and hell? There wasn’t one when I grew up, or at least I did not notice any. I think the people who have continued to listen to radio since then, probably still don’t notice.  But as I switched from one station to another, they all were so… jarring, I guess. Or like food made for elderly smokers – too sharp, painfully so. The music is disharmonious for the most part, and even when not, the lyrics are. We’ll be back to that in a moment. But even the news seem to be collected to make people upset, not to actually help them live their lives better or more safely.

The third and final radio station played Dolly Parton, who at least can sing well. But the song she was singing – “Jolene” – was an all too vivid reminder of the hell people today live in, where you not only have to fight for mating rights until you marry, but for the duration of your life.  (I don’t think she actually said anything about marriage, but this is how it is here in Scandinavia at least these days.  It is like civilization has slipped and fallen in this particular regard. I don’t mean you should treat your spouse like you take them for granted, but you should be able to take them for granted without treating them that way.)

This jagged, disharmonious, disturbing world is what people live in, is it not? A world where beauty is either absent or tainted, distorted, broken. A world where harmony is not just rare, but unwanted. God, how did we end up this way? What can we do about it?

I take a certain comfort in being disturbed by this sudden glimpse into the ordinary world. Perhaps they are not so much living in a half-hell as I am living in a half-heaven? Or perhaps that is always the case, the world below us is always hell and the world above us is always heaven, no matter which world we live in? So if you go to Heaven, you will find that even Heaven has a heaven.

On a more prosaic note, I think the reason why I dislike radio and television is that they try to think for you. With the Web, you click what you want to see or hear (or think you want), but with broadcasting there is someone else clicking for you. As if you were a patient unable to use your body from your neck down, and all you can do is open your mouth and they will put things in it. I would be hard pressed to spend much time using broadcasting even if it was of the same quality and had the same focus as myself.  But it doesn’t. It is different, at the very least. And in my ears, unpleasant.

Not literally Hell, I suppose. More like “Heck”. The realm of the Prince of Insufficient Light, if I remember my Dilbert correctly. That’s the world in which even Norwegians live these days – a world of insufficient Light. And the problem, the REAL problem, is that people like it that way.

1 thought on “Radio from Hell

  1. I suppose that I don’t pick up on this as much because the world has been pretty much this way all my life. Or, rather, I do pick up on it . . . I’ve just gotten used to it. The sadness about it never goes away, and it tends to fester until I become sour and cynical, but the beauty is still there. If you can get to it through all the ugliness.

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